Vomit Ritual – Callous Review

When I first read the name Vomit Ritual, three thoughts occurred to me. The first was that our tenured professor in all things vomit, Doktor Mark Z, should probably be reviewing this. The second was that Vomit Ritual is a rather funny band name in metal’s typical macabre and absurd sense of humor. What type of ritual involves vomit? Is the vomit procured beforehand, or do the participants need to vomit during the ritual? Who knows? Who cares? The third was reading Vomit Ritual in the phrasing of Death’s “Zombie Ritual,” which is rather amusing. Try it at home, the review will be here when you get back.

Assuming you haven’t forgotten this review to spin Scream Bloody Gore in its entirety instead, Vomit Ritual play a mixture of war metal in the vein of Diocletian and Heresiarch and the cavernous death metal brought forth by Incantation. I would also count early Corpsessed as an influence or, at the very least, a comparator. Compositionally, the riff-craft favors war metal’s more grinding and simplistic trem-picked chromatic runs than Incantation’s serpentine and creative riffing, but Vomit Ritual can nonetheless serviceably play some riffs in the Incantation style circa, to my ears, Primordial Domination.

Repetition plays a significant role in Callous. About two-and-one-half minutes into “Asphyxiated” Vomit Ritual introduces a basic three-note pattern and spends the remainder of the song – a duration of nearly three minutes – toying with that motif with guitars and bass. It successfully conveys a bleak, ritualistic atmosphere without resorting to sourcing samples of bells and chanting and calling it a day. The higher pitched vocals in “Penetrating the Infectious Wound” complement a workmanlike war metal riff and emphasize its vicious and propulsive energy. Bass plays an interesting role in disorienting the listener by constant slides at one point and, coupled with a smart use of feedback this creates a chaotic atmosphere without nearly devolving into noise like Conqueror’s most gratuitous moments. Album highlight “Sadolustic Crucifixions” ratchets up the Incantation and serves as the best representation of Vomit Ritual’s musical concept on Callous. It’s a killer mixture of war metal and death metal, structured smartly with judicious repetition, and is built on a foundation of quality riffs. One pattern in the midsection reminds of Skinless, but when Vomit Ritual moves some repetitions of it higher on the fretboard it takes on character much more reminiscent of war metal. This is a microcosm of why Vomit Ritual’s musical concept has promise.

While repetition’s role elevates some of the material here, in other places it does more harm than good. While an extended coda worked in “Asphyxiated,” the effect is diminished in “Nervous Temple” when the coda is essentially half of the ten-minute song. The ritualistic atmosphere is achieved and then lost by the musical equivalent of sematic satiation. “Paracusia Nexus” is a pointless waste of time, an interlude that immediately succeeds “Asphyxiated” and carries on with aimless guitar noises for one-and-one-half minutes. “Asphyxiated” having strongly established its identity with the extended coda, no differentiating device was really needed here structurally and, being the record’s third track, this little excursion hurts the flow of the record. Introductory piece “Strangling Opposing Throats” begins on a convincing death march which happily reminds me of Diocletian’s “Cleaved Asunder” but unwisely speeds the riff up after establishing it. This works against Vomit Ritual because the riff is more interesting rhythmically than tonally and it quickly becomes audial wallpaper. The ship is fortunately righted with a great use of feedback and bass guitar.

While Vomit Ritual has a good sound that I want to hear more of in theory, Callous ultimately comes across a bit undercooked in practice. Some supremely nondescript war metal riffs occur throughout (especially in “Lower Vibrational Entities”), some real patience-testing moments pop up, and the significant structural weakness of “Paracusia Nexus” hold this back from getting anything more than a reserved recommendation for those who want to hear a band with an interesting idea do that idea some, but not yet full, justice. Callous is produced clearly and the guitar tones are quite thick, meaning that when the music aims to be claustrophobic and oppressive, the production helps it do so. Each time I returned to Callous I truly hoped to like it more than I did, but that hope failed to materialize and I’m left with a record that’s a supremely frustrating few hairs less than good.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320kbps mp3
Label: Pulverised Records
Websites: vomitritual.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/Vomitritual
Release Worldwide: July 9, 2021

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